New Life List: Traverse a Mountain Range

Walking a high ridge with countless views and no people is the stuff of dreams. Make it real in Olympic National Park's Bailey Range.
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Walking a high ridge with countless views and no people is the stuff of dreams. Make it real in Olympic National Park's Bailey Range.

| BACKPACKER's NEW LIFE LIST |



Payoff
How well do you know your neighborhood? If you close your eyes, you can probably visualize individual houses, the people who live there, trees overhanging certain yards. That’s how I see California’s Trinity Alps, a range I’ve crisscrossed again and again over the last 25 years. From above, I’ve ferreted out secret campsites with big views, off-trail routes, and at least one unnamed lake that’s unfailingly as private as my own backyard. —D. Lewon

Do it Traverse the Bailey Range in Olympic National Park. The route mostly follows an open ridge carpeted with columbine, lupine, and bluebells in midsummer (then blueberries by August). And it has the park’s best view of 7,965-foot Mt. Olympus, which gleams above the lush rainforest of the Hoh River Valley. Yet the range sees only a handful of parties annually, thanks to 12 miles of off-trail travel. The 44-mile, five-day hike links the Sol Duc River trailhead with the Elwha River/Whiskey Bend trailhead.


Key Skill: Use a GPS to Navigate Off-Trail

» Pretrip, determine important navigational features, like a hidden lake or saddle, and their UTM coordinates, either by using mapping software or by taking the UTM coordinates from a map (see backpacker.com/skills/navigatefog).

» Load those waypoints into a GPS receiver. Also, if your GPS can upload maps, draw the route on map software, and then upload it.

» On the ground, when you’re approaching those key landmarks, hit the Go To button, for turn-by-turn directions to them.

» As you hike, identify terrain features on the map as well. Feel lost? Use the GPS to pinpoint your spot: Read your position coordinates, and then plot them on your map.


RESOURCESGetting there Start: From US 101, two miles west of Lake Crescent, take Sol Duc River Rd. south 14 miles. End: From Port Angeles, take US 101 west 8.5 miles, to a south onto Elwha River Rd. Go four miles to Whiskey Bend Rd. and drive 4.3 miles. Maps Green Trails 134 Mount Olympus, 133S Seven Lakes Basin (from $6; greentrailsmaps.com) Key waypoints Cream Lake: E 455143 N 5300824; Ferry Saddle: E 457500 N 5298337; Zone 10T, datum NAD27 Contact (360) 565-3100; nps.gov/olym/wic/index.html

SEE TWO MORE

Traverse New Hampshire’s Presidential Range on a 20-miler from Lowe’s Path trailhead on US 2 (west of Gorham) to US 302 in Crawford Notch State Park. (603) 374-2272; nhstateparks.org

Trace theContinental Divide Trail 94.6 miles from Stony Pass to Wolf Creek Pass, in Colorado’s biggest wilderness area—mostly above treeline. (970) 247-4874; fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan